Class Action: Bishop Garland’s Street Kamp
Fitness classes follow fashion. The city’s gyms and studios constantly launch new “It” classes. In Class Action we dish on what we’re trying, or what we really want to. And please tell us what classes you’re excited about in the Comments section, below!
The first thing I noticed about Bishop Garland’s Street Kamp was the constant, loud, human noise. Whimpers, groans, grunts. From petite blondes, and muscly dudes, and me.
Garland, a former Army guy and experienced trainer, holds the class in Central Park and teaches an indoor version at Reebok Sports Club. The format is based on military boot camp and air assault training and adventure races like Tough Mudder. It is not for those who like to look cool and stay clean while working out.
We started by jumping rope—not in place, but for a mile through the park, and up a hill, with Garland insisting on single jumps, which is nearly impossible. (“You think this is preschool? You’re not playing hopscotch!”)
Then, we bear crawled up and down a massive, grassy hill and pulled a partner up and down with ropes. Between segments, we ran in formation on the park paths, answering his call-and-response chanting. (“My momma told me, you better shop around…”)
At the end, we crawled the length of the sand volleyball court on our stomachs with hands behind our backs, using only our hips and knees to move. (Getting hit in the leg with a live volleyball was the least painful part of the workout.)
The finale was a crawl across the length of Sheep’s Meadow, while spitting out mouthfuls of sand.
Rather than inspiring hatred, Garland’s insistent commands and relentless pushing endear him to his clients, who raved about him after class. It also helps that he has a huge smile and an easy laugh.
“I try to push as hard as in the military, but I also create the feeling of a unit, to motivate you,” he says. It works. If someone falls behind while running, he sends the whole group back to pick them up. If someone cheats during a segment, everyone has to start over. Plus, he says, “Everyone knows that you can’t take anything I say in class seriously.” —Lisa Elaine Held
Who’s it for: Those who love boot camps, thrive with a tough-love instructor, and don’t mind a few pounds of sand in sneaking into their sports bra and workout pants.
Book it or skip it: Book it.